Photo of the Day: Laila, desert-bred Ubayyah Sharrakiyah from Syria

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on June 1st, 2010 in Syria

My father is here in the USA, visiting with me. We often get the chance to reminisce about the hundred or so horses he bred or owned when he was actively breeding, but also about those he was never to obtain, for one reason or another. Laila (photo below, which my father took) is one of these.

Laila was a ‘Ubbayyah Sharrakiyah, bred a small ‘Anazah Bedouin clan from an area in southern Syria. Somehow, her and her dam had found their way to Damascus in the early 1980s, where their new owner was breeding them to English Thoroughbred stallions to produce part-bred Arabs for the racetrack of Beirut, Lebanon. I will always remember seeing Laila’s black son, al-Adham, and her brother, Nashwan, both partbreds with 50% English Thoroughbred blood, on Sunday afternoons at the Beirut racetrack (it was the early 1990s), their tail held high in the air as they raced toward the finish line, looking distinctivly prettier than all the other partbreds in lot.  In the picture below, she is pictured with a foal by the part-bred Arabian stallion al-Mustaqbal.

In the early 1990s, as Syria joined the World Arabian Horse Organization, Laila’s owners switched to the breeding of asil Arabians, which was rapidly becoming more profitable. That was about the time when my father traveled to Damascus with the Syrian currency equivalent of 5,000 USD to Damascus to buy her. When there, he was told that she had just been bought by the Qatari consul in Syria for the Qatari ruler’s stud of Al-Shaqab. Laila was to be my father’s biggest regret.

8 Responses to “Photo of the Day: Laila, desert-bred Ubayyah Sharrakiyah from Syria”

  1. What a fine mare. I can see why your father would still regret her loss. I suppose that line is all gone now, in asil breeding? I am going through a number of our rare bloodlines now, and ache to see how many wonderful lines have dropped out since the mid-1980s. There was a change in US tax law at that time, and it affected land ownership and horse breeding very adversely.

  2. I think her line still goes on and if not then her dams lines does for sure

  3. I recall that, when you showed this picture at the Institute’s first Symposium, there was a collective gasp from the entire audience. Everyone immediately saw the beauty and quality of the mare.

  4. indeed in many ways she is reminiscent of Moniet El Nefous, in grey. Same size, same croup, similar long head, and this special look in the eyes.

  5. The fact that the line goes on somewhere is a relief to me. Blessings on them!

  6. “their new owner was breeding them to English Thoroughbred Stallions to get part bred Arabs for the race track”. Edouard, how common were such practices?Is it possible to know which lines have thoroughbred in them? The Thoroughbred cross is very evident in the French bred so called Arabians. Simply by comparing confirmation and type you can see the plainess in the French horses. Their bodies begin to get larger in comparison to their leg bones, so much so that it seems to me like a dead giveaway indicating an outcross. Whereas with Arabs of Asil breeding and also the CMK’s I’ve looked at, the horses show a cannon bone circumference to body weight ratio of .8 or better. For example a certain Kuhaylan Craver stallion here in Oregon has cannons measuring 7and 3/8inches, and weighs 850 lbs, giving a bone ratio of .86.. For a Thoroughbred or warmblood to exhibit equally strong legs an 1100 lb horse would need cannons measuring 9 and 1/2 inches.. The 1100 lb Thoroughbreds i’ve measured have all shown less than 9 inches in cannon bone circumference and stood less than 16 hands in height. Whats worse, as their height goes up and their body weight increases their leg size lags behind the size needed to ensure soundness. So there were good reasons why the bedouins bred horses that were,”small,” ( 14.1 to 15.1 and 930 lbs) by western show horse standards. That being a loss of strength and soundness once the phenotype gets beyond 15.2 hands and 1025 lbs. Most of the measuring of Thoroughbreds I’ve done has been at a local auction over a period of several years. I’ve been checking the cannon bone size of Arabs here locally over a period of 15 years or so..
    Best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  7. Bruce,

    These practices were relatively common before Syria prepared a studbook for asil Arabians in the late 1980s and became a member of WAHO in 1990 or 92 I think. The Syrian asils were not registered anywhere before that time. Some breeders, especially in the larger cities closer to the Beirut racetrack, in neighboring Lebanon, were breeding their asils to partbred Arabians because there was no market for asil at the time, and there was a market (the races) for partbreds.

    Things have majorly changed since Syria became a member of WAHO and now there is a thriving market for registered pure arabians in the country, and big export market to the Gulf and elsewhere, too.

    Obviously, the partbred products of asil arabians and English Thoroughbreds (or other partbreds) were not elibigle for registration. They form a local breed mainly bred for racing purposes.

  8. Layla a une fille “Rasha el Sham” par Eid le pere de Hassan
    Joe Achcar wrote to me yesterday about the descendance of Laila and her dam Shorouq:

    “Sa mere Shourouq a une fille Awasif par Moubarak et un fils Baher par Okaz par Wahag pur Egyptien importe en son temps par Y. al Romeihi. J’ai chez moi “Nazek el Sham ” qui est par une fille de Baher
    Shourouq est plus connue que sa fille car elle battait a la course les chevaux venus de l’hippodrome de Beyrouth”.

    So the line indeed bred on. I remember seeing Laila’s dam Shorouq and Laila’s sister Awasif at Basil Jadaan’s in Damascus in the late 1990s, and I recall that Awasif was exported to the UAE where she died shortly after.

    According to Datasource, which has data on the Syrian Studbook until 2002, the line breeds on, but very thinly.

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